The Kansas Jayhawks take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys in what was supposed to be a high profile matchup, but is instead just another routine game for KU. Kansas has already knocked off OSU's bigger brother OU and looks to go 2-0 against teams from the Sooner State, although The Cowboys are a much more dynamic team than the Sooners are. The Cowboys are an offensive threat wherever they are on the court, wether in the paint, from two point range or beyond the arc, the Cowboys can find a way to score. The Cowboys have a backcourt as deadly as the Jayhawks' and are led by guards Markel Brown and Marcus Smart. Defensively the Cowboys are a sound unit, giving up only 63.7 PPG in Big 12 play, although their 0-4 true road game record would say they aren't favorites to win this game.
When: Saturday, February, 4:00 PM ET
Where: Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS
Watch: ESPN3, Big 12 Network
No Injuries to Report
The Oklahoma State Cowboys' offense is driven by the backcourt, contributing about 57% of the Cowboys' 71 PPG. Freshmen Marcus Smart (13.6 PPG-5.6 RPG-4.6 APG) leads the point while G Markel Brown (14.8 PG-4.5 RPG-2.2 APG) and G Phil Forte (11.9 PPG-1.5 SPG) closely follow. The top 3 guards on the team contribute 60% of the Big 12's 5th best APG at 12.6. Freshmen Forte leads the Cowboys in three point percentage with a .386 mark and has been hot lately, hitting 47% in his last two games.
Weakness: Shot Selection
The Cowboys are creative when it comes to attempting shots, as every play looks different for OSU. In their last 5 games, the Cowboys have taken 42% of their shots in the paint, 27% from two point range outside the paint and 31% from beyond the arc. While the Cowboys have recently been taking most of their shots outside, 58% of shot taken, they are hitting only 37% of those shots taken, where as when they take shots inside the paint they hit 52% as of late.
No Injuries to Report
The Kansas front court hasn't so much been an offensive presence this year, more so a defensive front. C Jeff Withey (13.1 PPG-8.3 RPG) leads the Kansas "Block Party" with 4.3 BPG. F Kevin Young (7.3 PPG-6.7 RPG) and F Perry Ellis (5.1 PPG-3.8 RPG) have contributing in less "flashy" ways, but have been creating opportunities nonetheless. Ellis has been playing exceptionally well lately, in his last 4 out of 5 games where he has played more than 12 minutes, Ellis has averaged 5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
Look, I realize it must be repetitive to see the Offense listed as a weakness, but when your team can get off only 37 shots, there is something wrong. Now, Kansas did hit 20 of those 37 attempts against West Virginia, but if KU is facing any other team besides a floundering Mountaineers team, they'd better hit darn near every shot. KU has been averaging only 62 PPG in their last six games, which is good enough, or bad enough rather, for lowest PPG in the Bill Self era. This six game stretch is the longest in the Bill Self era when they Jayhawks haven't scored in the 70's. The Jayhawks are also in the 2nd longest win streak in the Bill Self era with 18. Go figure.
Kansas has been enjoying moderate success outside the paint lately, which could be a positive for the lacking offense. In the Jayhawks last three games, KU has hit 41% outside the paint and 53% from two point range outside the paint. This recent success outside the paint could help with offense in that jump shots don't create offensive fouls and can in return help out the defense by not surrendering free throws.
Trending Down: G Elijah Johnson
Many thought the way Elijah Johnson ended last season, he would be one for the top scorers for the Jayhawks, and saying that Releford and Withey would be higher scorers than him would be an absurd notion. Unfortunately, that is the sad case for Johnson. Johnson is averaging just 9.4 PPG and hasn't scored in the 10 point range in over four games. Johnson has pushed the three point shot as of late and has found very little success, hitting just 31% in his last 5 games. Even his assist rate is down, dishing out only 2.8 assists in his last 5.
Are we in for another low scoring game? Probably. Will it look like a B1G Ten game? Probably as well. The Jayhawks struggling offense going up against a solid defense won't provide KU with to many points on the board, and OSU's road game woes going up against the best home court advantage doesn't court well with them either. This game will be a battle of defenses and which ever team can score the longest, before eventually running out of steam.